With millions of companies cluttering the business landscape, the fight for customers has never been more fierce. It’s no wonder then that 85% of B2B marketers rate lead generation as their most important content marketing goal. That’s why lead generation companies are booming, and while competition is not a bad thing per se, the huge number complicates finding the right fit. We have solved that problem for you by ranking the industry’s best agencies with the help of an extensive set of criteria. Scroll down to read all about it, and don’t forget to check out our buying tips that will guide you to the right solution for your business.
When ranking companies and presenting the results to you, our goal is to give you a comprehensive review with actionable information. The methodology applied is based on detailed research of each company’s size and approach, experience and reputation, quality of work and tools, as well as the pricing models.
Here are the criteria we took into account.
We begin our evaluation by classifying the companies. While this criterion doesn’t necessarily affect our ranking, it helps us sort through the best lead providers.
Most agencies in the industry cater to an array of fields and are able to adapt to different situations and requirements. That said, should your line of business demand a highly customized approach, some agencies are industry-focused. For example, there are healthcare or insurance lead generation companies, while others work specifically with businesses in real estate, legal, financial, or IT and software development companies.
Also, each firm might tailor its services to the size of the companies they work with, from small and mid-size businesses to large enterprises, and even international companies. In this sense, the scope of services they offer depends on the size of the client.
We further classify the agencies as major account and small sales lead generation providers, depending on their types of projects and the target markets.
This type of agency deals with businesses that sell elaborate B2B products or services. Its practices would involve acquiring vital information and contact details of upper management individuals such as presidents, vice presidents, CEOs, CFOs — the decision-makers in other businesses and organizations.
Revolving around small purchases, small sales lead generation companies target businesses with potential purchases of under $10,000. While targeting might also include B2B businesses, the sales cycle is a lot shorter compared to that involved in major account lead generation.
Lead generation agencies may also differ from one another in the way they bring prospective customers to their clients. That also shapes the extent of their service and requires a diverse skillset from the employees working on a particular project. There are two common lead generation methods — inbound and outbound — so we determine in which category the company belongs and then evaluate how skilled they are in their chosen approach.
This method includes generating leads through creating content and carrying out “pull” marketing activities with the goal of attracting prospects toward a business website or online presence.
The outbound method relies on generating leads via multiple targeted channels such as direct mail, email, phone calls, PPC, etc.
To create a comprehensive lead generation companies list, we consider each firm’s experience, their previous and current clients, along with their industries, and the return value the outfit generated for its customers.
We also note it’s common for lead generation suppliers to branch out to areas like surveys, infomercials, direct response, and comprehensive account mapping. This further contributes to their level of expertise and ability to adapt to different situations and clients.
Acquiring new customers can be a long and painful process, as not every person is an ideal candidate for your products or services. It’s up to the product seller or service provider to look for potential customers and that is where lead generation firms become indispensable — if they provide quality leads, that is.
The quality of leads and appointments starts as soon as they are acquired as prospects and contacts. While there’s no shortage of companies that claim to have the “best” quality of leads, careful scrutiny of their sources helps us tell hype from fact. We, therefore, consider whether the agency is able to carry out its own prospect research or if they use third-party data sources, how often they update and clean their leads database, and what kind of lead management software they use.
We also examine the criteria used to make a lead qualified, the steps they take to ensure data quality from lead capture forms, and the ways to provide targeted organic traffic or PPC impressions.
The top rated lead generation companies should also have a full set of tools and skills to manage, automate, and optimize campaigns. To ensure that the candidate agency has the right tech stack for modern lead generation, we look for specific tools they use such as lead verification tools, analytics and reporting tools, marketing automation platform, CRM software, email automation, call tracking, social media management, SEO and CRO tools, and SEM analytics.
Reputation can sometimes tip the scales in favor of a particular company. That’s why when ranking the top lead generation companies, we looked at how they score on other lists, read reviews from independent, third-party sources, and considered any awards and recognition from relevant and reputable industry groups.
Costs are another important factor to consider, given their impact on ROI. Usually, companies that generate leads offer:
Whatever billing options are available, we make sure that the prices of lead generation services offered by the companies on our list fall within the industry standard. We also verify that they offer good value for money, and that they are upfront about their fees.
Closing the deal means committing to a partnership, which is why it’s so important to make the right choice. We are helping you with that by informing you what to look for when assessing potential partners, and what to expect after closing the deal.
Knowing what you want from your cooperation with a lead generation agency should help you make the right choice since you’ll look for a company with the right skillset. This means you should consider whether you need to acquire new leads or nurture existing ones, the level of complexity of your product or service, whether your campaign is reliant on automation or personalization, etc.
When you collaborate with a lead generation firm, the success of your campaign would largely depend on the team working on it. Their level of expertise, manner of communication and transparency may differ from those in your business, which could cause misalignment and, ultimately, failure to achieve the desired results. That is why you need to make sure you are comfortable with the company culture of your prospective partner.
Lead generation processes differ from one industry to another, which means that the company for lead generation services you end up with might need to adapt to your field.
If your niche is particularly narrow, with industry-specific characteristics, MOs, and target audience, you would need an agency with experience in your field. They will be able to conduct relevant research, project planning, change the course of action mid-project if necessary and more — all of that to deliver the expected results.
One major point to consider before closing the deal is how much money you are willing to spend on lead generation. While the gains can be great, you still need to consider the price to see what’s left in the end. Defining a realistic budget should help narrow down the number of the lead generation companies you are considering and take you closer to the right one for your business.